Most people recognize the importance of effective leadership. Yet a lot of people also complain about the disappointment they’ve suffered at the hands of great leaders.
From political icons, such as Bill ‘I never had sexual relations with that woman’ Clinton, to religious leaders such televangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, most leaders, or so-called “role models”, are judged to fall short of people’s expectations.
Setting aside the striking coincidence that many male leaders seem to suffer their lowest moments in the wake of well-publicised sex scandals, many of us are still fascinated by the actions that precipitate a leader’s downfall.
Some psychologists argue that when leaders occupy great positions of power, such as heading international banking institutions like the International Monetary Fund, they’re not only lauded and revered by many, but they enjoy celebrity, even a cult-like status.
This comes with perks and special treatment, such as never having to queue for anything on one end of the spectrum; to gaining financial favours on the other.
When being treated like a king becomes the norm, unsurprisingly, many leaders start to believe that the rules or principles that bind most ordinary people don’t apply to them. In some cases, they think they’re above the law; and they start to believe in their own omnipotence until one day, perhaps due to some salacious indiscretion, the rug is wrenched out from under their feet.
But how do leaders get into the position where they command blind loyalty in the first place?
Leadership expert, Jim Meindl, posits that it’s due to a phenomenon he calls, the ‘Romance of Leadership.’ This refers to how we believe that leaders are so important that we attribute more successes ÔÇô and failures ÔÇô to them than they deserve.
We put leaders on a pedestal. We coin terms and phrases that not only edify them, but which suggest that they should not be subject to the normal temptations that befall ordinary men and women.
We call for leadership that is ‘beyond reproach;’ and we demand that whatever goes on in the lives of leaders, whether public or private, should reflect, amongst other things, impeccable judgment (which varies in meaning from person to person); and a penchant for self-denial.
Some leaders encourage this.
Because modern leadership has, more or less, come to be defined as always being morally upright; and putting the needs of other people before one’s own, they try to convince people that they care more about them than they do about themselves; that they’re super human and can achieve feats beyond those of ordinary mortals. They develop a god complex.
Yet none of us is God. All of us are human; and basic human instinct dictates that we ensure our survival and well-being. Our survival is predicated on a natural self-interest; and if you’re a leader, never try to portray yourself as lacking in self-interest, or invulnerable.
What leads many of us to become disappointed with leaders, in whatever sphere, is that in our minds we have created mythical figures who can do no wrong. We project our many and varied hopes and fears on to ‘the chosen ones;’ heap adoration on them and, in return, expect them to fix all our problems.
When they inevitably fail to deliver, we accuse them of poor leadership; and we look for other people who’re foolhardy enough to want to replace them.
Yet even when a new leader is appointed, after a brief honeymoon period where we build them up, the minute they seem to be marching to the beat of somebody else’s drum, we begin tearing them down and blaming them for our ills.
We become bitter, instead of realizing that the only people who’re truly capable of realizing our individual interests; and of dedicating themselves to create a better life for us, are ourselves.
If you outsource leadership over your life, you only have yourself to blame if you’re unhappy with the results.
If you’ve been disappointed by people to whom you gave your power in the hopes that they would make your life better, stop now. Reclaim your power and make a positive difference in your own life.
And if you’re prone to portraying yourself as a miracle-maker who can deliver to other people what they, and others before you, have failed to give to them, stop! As the air hostess on the flight always says, “put the oxygen mask on your own mouth first before you attempt to assist other passengers.”
In other words leader, lead thyself!
Leadership never depends on how many people adulate you; or are prepared to do your bidding. It comes from the way you live your life; and whether you use all the resources at your disposal to create an extraordinary life.
So the first thing to ensure is that you have a grand vision for your life. Then, work on realizing it.
You may not know how your vision will be attained, but once you commit to that vision by, thinking about it regularly; speaking about it in a positive way; and by not allowing yourself to be distracted by events that don’t please you, the resources and people you need to make it a reality will start showing up in your life.
This is not hocus-pocus, it’s hard core science. Everything you have in your life now existed first as a thought in your mind.
When that happens, you start to intrigue people, because you get everything you want without ever having to fight with people that you expect to place your interests above their own. Then, you lead by example; and those who’re inspired to will follow you.
Today, vow to be your own leader, and follow your own movement. Associate only with people who’re positively focused; who discuss solutions, not problems; and who buoy your inspiring vision for your life.
Take leadership over your life and remember, “Life is like a dogsled team. If you’re not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” Lewis Grizzard.
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